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Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (Routledge Classics) Hardcover – 2 May 2002


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (2 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415285933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415285933
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 20.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,120,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'The central thesis of the essays and lectures gathered together in this stimulating volume is that our knowledge, and especially our scientific knowledge, progresses by unjustified (and unjustifiable) anticipations, by guesses, by tentative solutions to our problems, in a word by conjectures. Professor Popper puts forward his views with a refreshing self-confidence.' - The Times Literary Supplement

'Professor Popper holds that truth is not manifest, but extremely elusive, he believes that men need above all things, open-mindedness, imagination, and a constant willingness to be corrected. In summarizing his views in this way, I have done scant justice to the subtlety and importance of his argument. His own presentation of his case is luminously clear.' - Maurice Cranston, Listener

About the Author

Karl Popper (1902-1994). Philosopher, born in Vienna. One of the most influential and controversial thinkers of the twentieth century.

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The title of this lecture is likely, I fear, to offend some critical ears. Read the first page
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Neutral VINE VOICE on 26 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
Karl Popper's 'Conjectures and Refutations' is a gem of a book based on the thesis that 'we can learn from our mistakes'. Doing so results in theories of knowledge, reason and experience. Knowledge, particularly 'scientific knowledge, progresses by 'unjustified (and unjustifiable) anticipations, by guesses, by tentative solutions to our solutions to our problems, by conjectures'. What controls these conjectures is, 'attempted refutations'. In common with Xenophanes he believes that 'truth' is 'but a woven web of guesses'. There are many sources of knowledge but none has authority and philosophers have not distinguished clearly enough between 'questions of origin and questions of validity'. Thus the proper epidemiological question is not about sources but about assertions. Error can only be detected by criticising the theories or guesses of others and by criticising our own theories or guesses. He writes, 'in our infinite ignorance we are all equal', a lesson some vociferous scientists have yet to learn.

In his late teens Popper decided Marxism, psychoanalysis and individual psychology were 'three theories, though posing as sciences, had in fact more in common with primitive myths than with science; that they resembled astrology rather than astronomy'. Yet for their adherents these myths appeared to have an explanatory power which Popper attributed to their desire to look for confirmations. Such 'confirming evidence should not count except when it is the result of a genuine test of the theory'. In sum, 'the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability or refutability or testability'. Marxists sought to avoid the latter by re-interpreting theory when practice had falsified it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Francois Marcognet on 18 April 2013
Format: Paperback
This book "Conjectures and Refutations", dedicated to his friend Hayek, contains conferences and texts of the 1950's and the 1960's, so it is the time of maturity for Karl Popper, after his basic work of 1935: "The Logic of Scientific Discovery".
Considering the whole book, it is first of all a treatise on philosophy of science, but we find here the general philosophy of Popper, facing the main problems in the theory of knowledge: science, metaphysics, history of philosophy, language, the body-mind question, humanism and reason, and politics. He did apply his theory of knowledge from the Presocratics to the Vienna Circle and the modern "linguistic turn" in the XXth century, studying Hume, Kant, Berkeley, Hegel, Copernic, Newton, Einstein... It is always the same method that appears, of trying and error, or conjectures and refutations (the title), through testing theories, that leads to elimination or corroboration. Corroboration means approaching "truth" according to the theory of Tarski, Popper's reference here. We never reach an absolute certainty, but only temporary results, until the next problems appear, and calling new tests for the scientists and so on...
Then, the problematic of the author do help us to give answers to a lot of questions in physics, astronomy, empirical sciences, social sciences, politics and in general philosophy. Upon his logical foundations and his critical rationalism, with his criterion of demarcation: refutation, Popper defended a real and objective knowledge, a free research in science and democracy in politics.
(See also "Objective Knowledge" for his evolutionary theory of knowledge).
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A lot less daunting than you might think. Readable, and obviously a great book to quote from considering Mr Poppers importance in the history of the philosophy of science.
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